Super Troopers — Sunk Costs [NSFW]

Some young drug enthusiasts are driving while under the influence and consider a fairly interesting application of public goods and private ownership. Eventually, they hear the familiar sound of a police car behind them and scramble to hide the evidence of their crimes. The guy in the backseat eats a lot of drugs in an effort to hide their illegal goods. The guy in the front seat points out that he ate $130 worth of drugs and then lets him know that he can pay him whenever. This same attitude isn’t taken when the drugs are thrown out of the window, which would have been the alternative. Just because the guy in the front seat had paid $130 for the drugs doesn’t mean that’s justification for getting reimbursed. A sunk cost is a cost that is unrecoverable and shouldn’t be considered when making decisions.

Super Troopers — Rivalrous Syrup


The boys get into a chugging match to see who can put down a bottle of maple syrup the fastest (they’re in Vermont!), but it bothers some of the other patrons who would like syrup for their pancakes. Not only do they not take into account the costs their actions impose on others, but we see a clear example of the rivalrous nature of private goods. While they don’t possess a property right in order to sell the syrup to other diners (the restaurant would have that right), their use of the product prevents others from being able to consume the product.

Super Troopers — Who Owns the Beach


A group of enlightened drivers ponder the ownership of a beach. Beaches are typically public property, but in some areas they may be private land. One of the issues of beach ownership is determining who’s liable for an injury. A lack of clear property rights makes it an interesting argument for public/private ownership of areas.

Super Troopers — Free Hot Dog

This clip is a great one for the first week of a principles course and can be used to teach a variety of concepts including opportunity costs, marginal analysis, and incentives. Farva isn’t the smartest police officer on the force, and he’s an even worse economist. The gas station offers a “free” hot dog for people who pump 10 gallons of gas, but Farva only needs 9 gallons to fill his car. He has to make a decision on the margin about whether he wants to get that extra gallon. He weighs the costs and benefits of the extra gallon to determine if the “free” hot dog is worth the cost of 1 gallon of gas. Ultimately, the hot dog cost his 1 gallon of gas.

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